Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Spicy Chili with Wheat Berries and TVP

(pictured: spicy wheat berry and tvp chili topped with Daiya and tofu sour cream)

After reading the abstract today about soy reducing inflammation I decided to make a big pot of chili today with texture vegetable protein (tvp) as well as wheat berries. I typically only use wheat berries for their meaty chew but the tvp adds a nice texture to the chili.

One of the best things about chili is that it cooks almost by itself. I really love these low involvement dinners. The chili was cooking while I was cleaning and exercising. This would be a perfect meal to put in the crockpot if you aren’t going to be home.

The herbs and spices in this chili make it very flavorful. Adding cocoa powder to my chili is something I learned from my friend Louis. It does not impart a chocolate taste but instead adds a nice depth of flavor to the chili. The chipotle in adobo adds a little heat, but not anything that is too spicy. If you like heat you can safely add a third pepper without this being too hot. I added a little Worcestershire to the chili to give it a more “meat-like” flavor. Here is what I made tonight.

Spicy Chili with Wheat Berries and TVP
Makes 8 servings of approximately 2 cups each


1 pound of dried beans, rinsed and picked through
water to cook beans
4 bay leaves
2 tablespoons onion flakes
½ tablespoon garlic powder
14 ounces tomato sauce
14 ounces tomatoes, diced
1 tablespoon cumin seed
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon oregano, dry
1 teaspoon fennel seed
½ tablespoon cocoa powder
1 cup wheat berries, uncooked
1 cup soya granules (Fearn brand)
1 yellow onion, finely diced
3 carrots, finely diced
6 cloves garlic, minced (allow to stand for 10 minutes before adding so allicin can develop)
2 chipotle in adobo, minced
1 tablespoon Worcestershire

Optional Ingredients for garnish:

tofu sour cream
fresh cilantro
vegan cheddar cheese
tortilla chips


You can either soak the beans overnight or do a quick soak. Covering the beans with plenty of water and bringing it to a boil then turning off the heat, covering the pan, and allowing the beans to sit undisturbed for an hour is how you quick soak dried beans. Add the onion flakes, garlic powder and bay leaves. Don’t add salt at this point of it will make the bean skin tough. Either way (presoaked or quick soaked) now cook the beans with plenty of water until they are tender.

Once the beans are tender add the remaining ingredients and cook until the wheat berries and soya granules are tender. You may need to add water if the wheat berries and soya granules absorb much of the water.

Nutritional Information (without optional ingredients):

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 238.01
Calories From Fat (6%) - 14.88

Total Fat - 1.77g
Saturated Fat - 0.29g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 513.05mg
Potassium - 1135.68mg
Total Carbohydrates - 43.61g
Fiber - 10.06g
Sugar - 6.64g
Protein - 16.68g


According to the hubby this chili has “a nice deep, rich flavor and a good texture”. Simmering this chili for a couple of hours concentrated the flavors. By using both wheat berries and textured vegetables protein the overall texture was very “meaty”.

Each serving of this chili contains more than 6,000IU of vitamin A, 120mg of calcium, 120mcg of folate, 290mg of phosphorus, 120mg of magnesium, and 20mcg of selenium. Decent nutritional stats for a 240-calorie recipe I would say.

Tonight we had this chili with low fat tofu sour cream, Daiya cheese, and scallions and lettuce wraps. I hope to be back in a little while with the Mexican influenced salad dressing from this evening.


  1. Sounds like you have a really solid chili, with some unique characteristics. I've been wanting to try out TVP, for the heck of it really, this sounds like a great way for me to try it out the first time. Curious what your favorite uses for it are?

    While I'm thinking of it, have you ever considered adding a search widget to your page? You have a vast archive which would be awesome to poke around that way as well. Right about now I'd be searching for TVP :)

    Oh and grocery shopping tonight was a gas like usual. New pantry items are ajwain seeds and coriander seeds, hurrah!

  2. Always up for new vegetarian chili recipes. Did you just use a plain TVP or a flavored one? Have you ever tried this in the crockpot? Looks so good (especially at this moment when it's 30 degrees outside).

  3. Sarah,

    I don't use TVP that often anymore. However, it works well in place of ground meat that will be incorporated into a sauce, like chili, spaghetti with meat sauce, that sort of thing. I have also used it to make bacon bits (which I haven't posted yet, but will).

    I added the search widget. That waas a good idea. Thanks for suggesting it.

    Coriander seeds get used all the time at my house. I couldn't find ajwain seeds locally the last time I looked. Congratulations on finding them! Since you found them I just put them back on my list to look for again.


  4. Heather,

    I used unflavored TVP. If I can find the specific product on-line I will put a link to it in the recipe in a few minutes.

    I used to make chili in the crockpot but don't now since I am home during the day. This should work fine in the crockpot. I would cook the beans separately until they are just getting tender and then combine everything in the crockpot and cook on low.

    The reason I would cook the beans first is to make certain they will get tender. I have tried combining the beans dry with chili ingredients before and didn't like the texture of the beans made that way. The exterior of the beans was too firm on the outside to suit me.

    Sorry to hear it is so cold where you are. We are a balmy 47 this morning after rain and sleet last night. Can't wait for Spring!


  5. I've been using bulgar in place of TVP, which gives a similar chewiness to the chili. I throw it in at the end. And a touch of cocoa. I love your blog with its unusual health orientation. Most vegan blogs are very focussed on sweets and refined carbs. Thanks for blogging, it's got to be a lot of work.

  6. Elisabeth,

    Great suggestion on the bulgur! I can imagine how that would work beautifully. Wheat berries are chewy, but a tad too chewy to be used alone as a meat substitute. I will definitely be trying a combo of bulgur and wheat berries next time.

    Thank you for letting me know you appreciate my focus on health and nutrition. Sometimes I wonder if it is too much for a food blog.

    I started the blog to share my recipes and nutrition research with my friends (it is much quicker than individual emails and phone calls). It is a little bit of work, but less than I spent communicating before the blog. Also I have met some wonderful people through the blog so that is a definite bonus.

    Thanks for commenting, and nice to meet. I hope you stop by and comment again soon.



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